An Israeli violinist Barolsky has released her debut solo album, featuring some notoriously challenging works, but even from listening to the first ten seconds of any of the tracks on the album, it is obvious that she understands her own capabilities as a violinist; the technique and knowledge required to successfully perform any of these works requires true dedication to modern repertoire.
Introducing the CD with Berio’s infamous Sequenza VIII, Barolsky’s intensity and connection with the work is strikingly obvious. The work itself contrasts with the composer’s other sequenzas through its more melodic approach. Barolsky conveys the work’s musicality throughout, overcoming Berio’s stereotypically “ugly” timbres while portraying a consistent agitato over the full 13 minutes.
The album features some other contemporary repertoire, including works for violin and various electronic effects. Dai Fujikura’s Fluid Calligraphy was included, curiously, without the visual aid of the film for which it was scored, which might explain the slight lack of extra sparkle on this track. A personal favourite was Amos Elkana’s Reflections, which features some sort of looping. The effect came across quite convincingly, despite some slight tempo inconsistencies. Barolsky also chose to include a composition by her late father, Michael Barolsky; Prana, Sanskrit for “life force,” combines sounds of nature, such as thunder and wind, in an eerie conversation between violin and tape. Luca Francesconi’s Riti Neurali concludes the disk, in a live recording, which again features strenuous technical passages and intense dissonances in the solo violin part, pitched against the playing of the Israel Contemporary Players conducted by Ilan Volkov.
Barolsky is to be commended for her ambition and her ability to perform such demanding repertoire with confidence and precision, as well as successfully creating a strong programme of contemporary violin pieces. Let’s hope this is the first of many recordings to come.